Fish know no borders. Many of the challenges facing fisheries are global in nature, and the solutions involve global cooperation. At Secure Fisheries, we coordinate and facilitate efforts by the international community—including nongovernmental organizations, inter-governmental organizations, industry, and state governments—to ensure the sustainability of fisheries, reduce conflict around fishing, and combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
IUU fishing costs the global economy up to US$23 billion per year and undermines the ability of nations and regions to sustainably manage their fish stocks for long-term food and economic security. Illegal fishing vessels often participate in other maritime crimes such as human slavery, drug smuggling, and piracy. Rapid and reliable information sharing between authorities and nations is one of the keys to stopping IUU fishing and associated crimes.
- Human intelligence is critical for the fight against illegal fishing. Navies and coast guards, fishing vessels, and merchant vessels have unique and valuable knowledge about what happens on the ocean, but this knowledge is difficult to act on. Secure Fisheries and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime are leading Caught Red-Handed, a partnership with the state navies, coast guards, and maritime police in nine East African nations to develop standard operating procedures for collecting human intelligence on IUU fishing.
- In the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), foreign distant-water fishing fleets have significantly expanded their presence, and East African nations face challenges to monitoring and controlling fishing activity in their waters. Independent partnerships and fusion centers across the WIO bring together states, IGOs, and NGOs to combat illegal fishing. Secure Fisheries is leading efforts to coordinate these separate partnerships and ensure a more effective multi-agency response to illegal fishing.
- In Somalia, the state and federal governments have the potential to earn income from licensing foreign fishing vessels to fish in their Exclusive Economic Zone. As Somalia moves toward establishing a Federal Fishing Authority, there are complex details—how much to charge, how to share revenue—that require negotiation. Secure Fisheries is cooperating with members of the International Partner Fisheries Working Group to support and advise the Somali Federal and Member State ministerial representatives on offshore fisheries management, including on-going efforts to license foreign vessels fishing in Somali waters.
- In Lake Victoria, the three nations that border the lake work in concert to study, manage, and harvest their commercial fisheries. Currently, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania are taking different approaches to growing their nascent cage aquaculture industries. Secure Fisheries is leading a team of scientists from four African institutions and four North American universities to collect and analyze data that will inform sustainable development of the aquaculture and fisheries sectors.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, threats to maritime security and governance are intricately linked. Illegal fishing, human trafficking, piracy, and drug smuggling may originate in one country, cross the borders of another, and end up in a third. Secure Fisheries and two other OEF programs, Oceans Beyond Piracy and OEF Research, produce the Stable Seas Maritime Security Index to provide a tool for mapping and measuring these threats in an effort to inform African regional security efforts.